Speed kills. The New York Rangers are a quick, talented team with one of the best defense corps in the Eastern conference and the second best goalie in the world. The Rangers were coming off an impressive charge to the top of the standings and at Madison Square Garden, Henrik Lundqvist had been dominant.
On Wednesday night the relentless speed of the Montreal Canadiens made the Rangers look slow. And ‘the King’ looked ordinary.
It was an evenly matched first period between two of the best teams in the league. The Canadiens took command early while the Rangers finished the period strong forcing Carey Price to make some enormous saves to keep the home team off the scoreboard.
The Rangers continued their strong play in the second but again Price was there. And then it happened. The Canadiens goaltender got up noticeably in pain after stretching across the crease. For the remainder of the second period, Habs fans held their breath.
As expected, Mike Condon was in goal to start the third period. And for the second straight game a Canadiens win was bittersweet.
Montreal had played one of their strongest games of the season. The line of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Sven Andrighetto was the team’s best. But the concern post-game was for Price.
Michel Therrien said that it was the same injury for Price, the one that caused him to miss eight games. Therrien bristled at the thought that the Canadiens had rushed their best player back into service when Condon was struggling. But it is clear that had their backup performed as he did early in the season, Price would have been allowed the time to fully heal.
Therrien offered no timeline other than to say that Price would not dress for the game in New Jersey. Dustin Tokarski has been recalled from St. John’s.
Alex Semin was also injured in the game, missing the third period.
The Canadiens play a home-and-home series against the Devils starting Friday night in New Jersey.
▲ Carey Price, Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, Sven Andrighetto, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tomas Plekanec, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov
“To have success, first of all you need depth, and when you use the depth and the guys get an opportunity, they have to make sure they do a good job. Obviously, Smith-Pelly did a great job with [Plekanec] and [Pacioretty]. That was a good line for us. They got some good opportunities, good looks. I really appreciate not only that line, but the way the whole team played.”
Therrien on Price: “It’s the same injury. That’s all I know. He’s not going to play in Jersey. Medical staff and Carey were really comfortable about coming back. If we had any doubt we wouldn’t have taken the risk.”
“We are very, very happy with the way we played. They’re probably not happy with the way they played, and you can look at it that way. … All things considered, with [Condon] having to step in and guys being put in great situations to succeed, it’s a very satisfying win, and hopefully we can use it as a momentum- and confidence-builder.”
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh
“I think we got a little bit rattled at times and frustrated with ourselves because of the pressure they were putting on us, forcing us into some giveaways. That’s uncharacteristic of us, but at the same time that’s a good team and they’re playing really well right now and you’ve got to give them some credit too.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault
“We didn’t obviously answer the bell for the challenge we had tonight.”
“When you make the type of mistakes we made tonight, they are going to make you pay for it. That’s what happened.”